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Humble Heroines: Across the Pond Creative, Rohit Iyer, dives into our latest documentary series

25 October 2018 16:02pm

For International Day of the Girl 2018, YouTube Social Impact came to us with a challenging and inspiring ask: convincing the unconvinced that educating girls in India is vital and showing people what they can do to help.

Women’s education in India is still a significant topic of discussion. The world average female literacy rate is 79.7%, while in India the average rate is 65.46%. While this was a very special brief, we wanted to be sensitive to local nuances and that heavily informed our process.

We approached four international nonprofits (UNICEF, Girl Effect, Malala Fund and Video Volunteers) who are doing incredible work in India and proposed a series of short documentaries that would tie into YouTube’s, “Educate a girl, inspire a nation” campaign.

FINDING THE STORIES

As the subject matter was quite expansive, we wanted to narrow it down and find a human angle. After an initial research phase with each nonprofit, we realised that the most powerful way to articulate this message is through individual stories.

Thus began a search for girls, young women and activists whose personal efforts or contributions had impacted their immediate community and changed the perceptions of people around them. This felt like an exciting direction to both YouTube and the nonprofits and with their support, we began conducting pre-interviews with prospective subjects and started tying down locations.

With teams in San Francisco and London speaking with the NGOs (based in New York, Mumbai and Goa) and subjects and translators across India, this research phase was both complex and exciting. Hearing the enthusiasm of these girls and women over international conference calls, our team was raring to go out and meet them.

PARALLEL PRODUCTIONS

A very tight production schedule and multiple locations meant we had to split into two separate production units. Our teams shot in four remote locations, ranging from towns in the West (Rajasthan) to the villages in the East (West Bengal). Both crews worked around the clock to shoot each film within the span of a little over a week.

The shoot was also an opportunity for our crews to bond with our subjects and we were all really moved and inspired by what they had achieved. In spite of facing multiple societal and financial challenges, each of our subjects had managed to break gender stereotypes and truly influence their families and communities.

GO FOR GIRLS

Our post-production and editorial process was compressed and we collaborated across our London and San Francisco offices. Even as we were cutting these films against the clock, we still wanted to take great care to translate our subjects’ stories into short docs as authentically as possible. We paid particular attention to how each of our subjects was presented and ensured that they had complete agency when it came to telling their own stories.

The final films were released on International Day of the Girl (October 11th, 2018) along with messages from Indian influencers (like Priyanka Chopra!). We feel extremely privileged to have been a part of such a remarkable project. Working with YouTube and the nonprofits was a great opportunity, but being able to celebrate these young women and girls was truly special.

Across The Pond is a content agency based in London, San Francisco and Singapore. Learn more about their work at https://www.atp.tv/.

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